Poised to commence his legal action against The Other Three, Peter Hook bestrides the legacies of two seminal bands like some kind of a COLOSSUS; Joy Division and New Order. Tonight, it’s “Imperial”-period New Order and he’s playing their mid eighties albums “Low-life” and “Brotherhood.” For reasons that I won’t bore you with, I missed this show at The Ritz in Manchester, last year, so we’re here to make amends in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire. It’s a perfect Autumnal evening and we’re walking around darkening alleyways behind Sid’s Café searching for the ghosts of Compo, Foggy and friends. There’s an aroma of wood smoke pervading the town before we enter its LEGENDARY Picturedrome. Let the ceremony begin!
Hooky’s big concept/grand conceit with The Light is to play EVERYTHING he ever recorded; from Joy Division’s Punk beginnings on the “An Ideal For Living” E.P. in 1978 up to, presumably, the 2010 album by Freebass, “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Let me say from the outset, I have nothing but admiration for such an ambitious undertaking. The performances tend to be marathon affairs with each featured album played in track order according to its sleeve. Even before I enter the Picturedrome, I know that “Brotherhood” (from 1986) will be played before “Low-life” (from 1985) but the formula for each gig is, roughly, the same.
For example, this time, we have one starter course of Joy Divison material before the main course is served. An appropriately-titled “Exercise One” kicks things off, Captain Hook and his group appearing onstage with the minimum amount of fuss. Hooky takes lead vocals and the song passes by all darkly brooding and atmospheric before “No Love Lost” from their formative Punk-period. “Insight” takes me back to my student-bedroom years of introspection and alienation (who? moi?) whilst “From Safety To Where…?” proves to us all just how far ahead of the game J.D. actually WERE in 1979. “Warsaw” gives us another blast of Punk Rock from aforementioned, debut E.P. until, mercifully, there are signs of life in the moshpit as “Transmission”, er, transmits this concert’s FIRST anthem of the night. “This one’s for you”, Peter tells us. They conclude the opening set with second anthem, “Ceremony.” The guys seem a little stiff and tense throughout initial proceedings. It’s a feeling that is reinforced when David Potts, the guitarist/second vocalist, enters into an altercation with a member of the audience interrupting the start of “Ceremony.” It hardly seems appropriate to tell my little joke about a “support act” called The Slaves Of Venus—.
First interval is over and familiar “Viking” music heralds The Light’s return, their “Brotherhood” set beginning in earnest. They recommence with “Lonesome Tonight” and, of course, the entire gig is a song/trainspotter’s heaven! “Thieves Like Us” gets everyone more into the mood albeit with a palpable tension still in the air. Hooky next informs us, “I have to concentrate on a tough one”, and it turns out to be the first song from this featured 1986 collection; “Paradise.” The format from here until last track, “Every Little Counts”, comprises of Hook taking main vocal duties with Pottsy adding support or second vocals. Each album track follows in sequential order, “Weirdo”, “As It Is When It Was”, “Broken Promise”, “Way Of Life.” For me, it’s the nearest that I will ever get to New Order at Manchester G-Mex during the Festival Of The 10th Summer. I heard it on Piccadilly Radio as a callow 16-year old and Bernard Sumner’s “non-voice” inspired me greatly in teenaged, Rock’n’Roll pretensions. Hearing it all live tonight is a strange experience (with the bassist-turned-singer concentrating like FUCK on every song) and not how I imagined it would be, somehow. “Bizarre Love Triangle” gets us all going again before “All Day Long”, “Angel Dust” and “Every Little Counts” end the current set. I’m scribbling comments in my notebook like,” Since the drum machines and sequencers have fired up, they’re losing the plot”, and,” Why don’t they let Pottsy sing main vocals- like they did in Monaco- for these later New Order songs?”, and, “Pete can’t do the Bernard Sumner “hopping-dance.” I’m feeling less than elated heading into the second interval—.
At last, we get a BREAKTHROUGH. Hooky And The Boys reappear to offer “Low-life” for our delectation and enjoyment. The dynamics have changed, now. David Potts takes deserved lead vocals on “Love Vigilantes” (and on most of the other songs) and even the trademark melodica makes a welcome appearance. We love the song so much that we send a stage invader to conduct proceedings! “The Perfect Kiss” really takes things into overdrive with Peter’s son, bass guitarist Jack Bates, getting in on the act. Dad and lad play the shit out of their guitars on this one. The 1985 album’s next few songs are, simply, a TRIUMPH. “This Time Of Night” and “Sunrise” precede my FAVE moment of the concert, Hook sitting on a stool and delivering the instrumental “Elegia” to one visibly moved reviewer, at least. The moshpit has finally, FINALLY woken up during the third set. Everyone, including The Light, so much “wants” the gig to be this good that we FORCE it to happen. “Sooner Than You Think” and a SUBLIME “Subculture” have me singing and tapping along with my pen. It’s the mid eighties again and I’m listening to “Face Up” on a long-forgotten radio station. Somebody’s singing, “Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re a cunt—”, but wait a minute, no they’re not. Hooky remains faithful to original lyrics and leaves the stage to rapturous applause.
Of course there will be encores (usually, about seven of them) but, first, we are duped into a “false start” version of “Blue Monday” while the band takes some badly needed rest. Returning to the fray, “True Faith” gives us punters what we continue to NEED on this night of anthems. I sing out loud to its syncopated rhythm. The Hookmeister tells us to confess our sins at Church in the morning, a cheesy link to “Temptation” which heralds mass dancing all around the Picturedrome. It’s “the moment” we were all yearning for and we’ve reached the height of the show. “Goodnight, Holmfirth—.” Can they return one LAST time and can anything else top such a wonderful achievement? Yes, you’ve guessed it. “Blue Monday” begins proper and an exhilarating climax stars Peter Hook banging the drum (machine). He seems satisfied with The Light’s performance at the death. He even gets his tits out Morrissey-style in the final seconds. “Goodnight, God bless.” A man of few words but a man of sincere, musical ambitions.
Like Manchester City in the last match of the 2011/12 Season against QPR, it all came good tonight for The Light in extra time. They were losing before halftime but they came back to level things up and won the Prem in additional minutes! One may discuss the merits or otherwise of Hooky playing this material “solo” (and I, personally, believe that he should have stuck with his Freebass project adopting a “revolving door” policy with its members like Matt Johnson did with The The) but people actually WANT to hear the full New Order/Joy Division back-catalogue and that can’t be such a bad thing? Can it? We leave the building and I’m reminded of over-excited words spoken by someone a long, long time ago, “Give my best to Peter Hook!”
Peter Hook And The Light are:-
Peter Hook- vocals/bass guitar
David Potts- guitar/vocals
Jack Bates- bass guitar
Andy Poole- keyboards